Economist Brad DeLong has come out swinging against Austrian economics again, and once again he’s punched himself in the face. But he’s too numb to realize it. There’s a great response on the Mises Economics Blog by Jonathan Catalán, and I take a stab on my site, Wirkman Netizen.
It’s interesting that neither Catalán nor I attack, in our respective longer efforts, the worst calumny of DeLong’s, his insinuation that the Austrian distrust of fiat money comes down to anti-Semitism: “[I]n its scarier moments this train of thought slides over to: ‘good German engineers (and workers); bad Jewish financiers.’”
Since Mises was a Jew, and was treated badly for anti-Semitic reasons at times — why does DeLong think Mises left Austria? — and that Mises never, ever supported anti-Semitism (nor did Hayek, for that matter), this is especially vile. It’s just another example of those leaning left (which means: technocrats who mislabel themselves as “liberals” and “progressives”) playing the racism/anti-semitism card when they lack a good hand.
DeLong should be ashamed of himself. But, then, one of the perks of being in the managerial class of the technocratic state means never having to say you are sorry.
I am pretty sure that, had I taken economics in school, I would never have developed an interest in it.
One of my hobbies is collecting economics textbooks. They are not uniformly bad — I have gained insights from those by Alchian and Allen, David D. Friedman, Gwartney and Stroup, and a few others — but they are not as good as the old “Principles”-style texts from days of yore. You know, general theory books covering a lot of ground for a wide audience including amateurs, written (in the best cases) in readable English (or other common tongue) and not littered with Q&As and “work problems” and “call-out” boxes of biographies of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, and the ever-present Keynes. The best of the old-fashioned treatises, such as by F.W. Taussig, and especially the “anachronistic” efforts by Ludwig von Mises (Human Action) and Murray Rothbard (Man, Economy and State), outshine all econ texts used in colleges today.
Part of the problem is that the textbook industry is a mostly corrupt adjunct to the university system, the main idea being to milk as much money as possible from students. The often-annual revisions in textbooks are usually trivial . . . but quite necessary for the planned obsolescence of the media, allowing universities to renege on buy-backs, thus keeping multi-hundred dollar purchases coming into their revenue streams. Change a few pictures, charge $300+.
This perverse industry has arisen, in part, in response to the near-unlimited demand stemming from subsidized tuitions and student loans. [Keep reading…]
Cato Institute has launched a new website: libertarianism.org. In a previous incarnation, the domain served as a promotion page for David Boaz’s Libertarianism: A Primer.
Designed to be an introductory and exploratory — if not quite a portal — site, it sports an elegant, stylized dove-wing logo. This is Cato’s version of what the Advocates for Self-Government offer at libertarianism.com. But Cato’s new site offers more links and videos on its front page, so it is bound to get more hits. The site offers a basic banner introduction:
LIBERTY. It’s a simple idea, but it’s also the linchpin of a complex system of values and practices: justice, prosperity, responsibility, toleration, cooperation, and peace. Many people believe that liberty is the core political value of modern civilization itself, the one that gives substance and form to all the other values of social life. THEY’RE CALLED LIBERTARIANS.
Well, that’s one way of putting it.
Just below the banner, a video of an F.A. Hayek lecture on why ethics not arise from our reason. A familiar Hayekian topic, and I just started listening to it. Below that are three other videos, one by Milton Friedman on humility, a short (and terrific) Murray Rothbard lecture on economic recessions, and Joan Kennedy Taylor on feminism. Today’s featured essays are by George H. Smith (“Religious Toleration Versus Religious Freedom”) and Tom G. Palmer (“Myths of Individualism.”) [Keep reading…]
Arnold Kling, at EconLog, relates Scott Sumner’s simple query as to why the 2008 financial crisis has caused such low or negative growth down even unto the present day, and offers four possible answers. I will comment only on one of them:
Because the Fed made forecasting errors. Right-wingers are fond of brandishing charts showing that the unemployment rate with the stimulus is on a worse trajectory than what was forecast without the stimulus. That may or may not be evidence that the stimulus failed, but it is evidence that standard forecasts were not sufficiently pessimistic about the economy. Assuming the Fed used standard forecasts, that would explain the inadequate monetary expansion back then. It doesn’t explain their reluctance to expand now, though.
There are several places where this answer (which Kling does not favor) goes wrong. Most noticeable, to me, regards the possibility that the forecasts “were not sufficiently pessimistic about the economy.” This is not the only possibility. It is not even the most likely possibility.
The problem was that the forecasts were too negative [Keep reading…]